Saturday, August 20, 2016
When Woodchucks Go Hiking
We went for a family hike this morning in some very nice pine woods. Jack was in the pack; Mia was with us; it was all fine family fun. Cubby and Charlie were trotting along quite merrily with their sticks, until it warmed up and we got to a different kind of forest (more hardwoods than evergreens) and the bugs started, well, bugging us. Cubby and Charlie got fussy about the bugs--probably also they were just tired at that point--so we turned around to come home.
A. suggested that perhaps they would like to run barefoot on the path on the way back. Most of the path was heavily covered with a nice springy layer of pine needles and they thought this was swell. A. decided to join them in their barefoot trail run, leaving Jack and me the only ones still with shoes.
After a brief stop at a stream to (fail to) catch minnows and frogs, eat some nuts and drink some water, we rallied the troops for the last half mile or so. Cubby and Charlie were not too pleased to press on. Jack was quite excited about running down the trail on his own tiny legs. He fell a lot, but seemed happy enough. Charlie was so unhappy and whiny and slow, I suggested to A. that maybe Charlie could ride in the pack, because I was ready to be out of those woods by then, thanks very much.
Charlie thought this was a great plan. Charlie is so skinny, A. couldn't even tell the difference between carrying him and carrying Jack. We continued on in this way for a little while, until Jack became too distracted by toxic berries and tree roots that wouldn't budge despite persistent pulling, and I scooped him up to speed up and catch up to the rest of the crew.
When I reached them, A. insisted on taking Jack and carrying him on his shoulders. Charlie was still in the pack, so A. basically stacked the two younger children and continued on. Still barefoot, remember. As was Cubby.
And then, just before we came to the trailhead, Mia dived into the brush and emerged with a twitching juvenile cottontail rabbit clenched in her jaws.
I spent the last ten minutes of the hike hoping fervently that we didn't encounter anyone else on the trail. Perhaps they might have looked askance at a barefoot man packing two children, trailed by a third barefoot child and a large dog with a dead rabbit in its mouth.
We finally made it back to the car, disposed of the rabbit (much to Cubby's voluble displeasure, but rabbits can have a lot of parasites in warm weather, so we thought we'd better not risk it), buckled everyone into their seats, and came home.
Fine family fun, indeed. For a family of woodchucks, anyway.